Turkmenistan: 300 Years of National Poet Magtymguly Fragi

Throughout the history of Turkmenistan, there have been many outstanding, legendary personalities who, in the most difficult moments of peoples‘ life became a spiritual healer of all vulnerable hearts and the entire human soul. One of them was the great Turkmen poet Magtymguly Fragi, who left an indelible mark not only in the history of the Turkmen people, but also in all world with his invaluable literary heritage.

Article by: Chinar Rustamova, Executive secretary of the National Commission of Turkmenistan for UNESCO, February, 2024 Ashgabat/Turkmenistan

Magtymguly is an outstanding poet and the founder of Turkmen literature. His works, which are an excellent example of Turkmen classical literature, include preserved copies of manuscripts of his works, which were widely distributed on the territory of Turkmenistan in the XVIII-XIX centuries and abroad. He belonged to the category of truly folk poets, who were nurtured by the people themselves, in his poems the joys and the sorrows of his native people took a unique form. The poet’s thoughts, expressed in the poems served as an impulse for the emergence of progressive ideas, the main of which is unification of tribes and creation of single Turkmen state.

Fragi’s works played a major role in the development of the didactic line in Türkmen poetry, long served as a model for poets of subsequent centuries, such as Seyitnazar Seydi, Gurbandurdy Zelili and Mammetveli Kemine, who like Magtymguly began to create, going beyond the narrow limits of conventions in the poetry of the XVIII century. The poets Mollanepes, Magrupy and Mataji became a faithful followers and continuers of the traditions of the poetic heritage of Magtymguly.

It should be noted, that the poems of Magtymguly are a chronological encyclopedia, which systematically and in detail describes the political and economic events that took place in the second half of the XVIIIth century on the territory of Turkmenistan and its neighboring countries. Therefore, it is difficult to comprehend the events of that period, without studying the literature heritage of Magtymguly.

The XVIIIth century fell on the most difficult period in the history of Turkmenistan. As the result of the wars of conquest between Iran, Khiva and Bukhara the Turkmen land was severely damaged. The southern region of Turkmenistan (the native lands of the poet Magtymguly) had a particular hard time, which suffered from the constant predatory raids of Iran.



Serving humanity for him is freedom.
He is the language and the syllable-the speech of Turkmen people.
Honoring the sacred eternal will of the
Fount of Wisdom of Magtymguly Fragi.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov
National leader of the Turkmen people,
Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan


It was in such a hopelessly difficult period, like a lighthouse in a dark world, that Magtymguly was born and showed his compatriots a way out into a bright future. He was the first among the predecessors, to have a powerful, defiant voice, openly speaking out against the enemies not only of his people, but also the peoples of the entire region.

At the same time, Magtymguly is not the only famous poet for Turkmens, he also become a favorite for many peoples of the world. His poems are an inexhaustible source from which the people draw life giving wisdom. His poems sound like an anthem of humanism, patriotism, unity and cohesion, they have become a reference point and a model for scientists and poets of many countries.

The content of Magtymguly’s poems goes far beyond the usual themes in the poetry of Near and Middle East, where socio-political motives play an important role. He managed to rise above tribal prejudices and called to unification of Turkmen tribes to fight against foreign enslavers, to create a single Turkmen state. In this matter, he differs strongly from his predecessors, possessing a significant political outlook and free-thinking worldview.

The poet managed to inspire the people to fight for justice, equality and freedom, which is the very core for both classical Turkmen literature and the entire of progressive spiritual culture of the Turkish speaking world. This is Magtymguly’s historical merit and his creative heritage, thanks to which the Turkmen people were able to survive and preserve their native lands. That’s why Magtymguly’s poems gained national fame during the poet’s lifetime. They sold like freshly hot baked bread on a tandoor, “without even having time to cool down”.

An invaluable role was played by the poet’s relatives, such as Ak Ishan, Gara Ishan, Gyzyl Akhun, as well as numerous keepers of his poems, including Nurmamed Oraz ogly from Kizilatreka, Agadurdy Begjan ogly, Abdulla Tejen akhun from Kumushdepe, Goch Gadym ogly, Juma Kerim, Sapar Yalkap ogly and many others, who managed to collect and to preserve the poet’s poems for many years, in order to pass them on to the present and future generations in a complete state.

The Turkmen folk singers (bakhshi) such as Gambar bakhshi, Garadali Goklen, Muhy bakhshi, Palta bakhshi, Gurban bakshi, who played an important role in preserving and spreading the literature heritage of poet and possessing a phenomenal memory, contributed to transmission the Magtymguly’s poets from generation to generation absolutely in unchanged content.

Turkmen scientists Akhundov Gurgenli, Mati Kosayev, Baymukhammet Garriyev and Annagurban Ashirov made a huge contribution to the collection, research and promotion of the poet’s work, and foreign researchers such as A. Khodzko-Boreyko A. Vamberi, I.N. Berezin, Louis Bazin, Yusup Azmun, F. Bakulin and many others. As a result of the collected materials, the first collection of Magtymguly’s poems was published in Ashgabat in 1926.

During the years of independence of Turkmenistan, as a result of research works carried out by Turkmen scientists, a number of valuable works of Magtymguly were found, stored in manuscripts centers of Hungary, St. Petersburg and Tashkent.


In August 2010 the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, donated copies of old manuscripts of Magtymguly Fragi poems to Turkmenistan, which were previously stored in department of manuscripts and rare books of the scientific library of Kazan University.

Nowadays, the significance of the great thinker’s work has gone beyond the national framework of time and culture and has become an integral part of regional and world literature.

Magtymguly’s writings had a significant impact on the work of poets from neighboring countries. In particular, this is clearly manifested in the repertoire of performers of dastans of Uzbekistan, in particular Bukhara, Khorezm, Karakalpakstan, Surkhandarya and Kashkadarya, who performed and continue to perform songs based on Magtymguly’s poems, which emphasizes the immense geographical reach of his poetic heritage. It is known that to this day, a tradition has been preserved in these areas, where the opening of wedding celebrations is provided primarily to local performers of dastans based on Magtymguly’s poems. The great Turkmen poet has truly become a favorite poet of the Uzbek people.

The poetic heritage of the great Turkmen poet has become a model for many Uzbek poets, such as Kunkhoja (1799-1880), Ajiniyaz (1824-1878), Berdimurat Berdak (1827-1900), who created a number of great works adapted in the style of Magtymguly.

The style and form of Magtymguly’s poetic skill occupies a special place in the development of Tatar literature, whose representatives recognized the high talent of Turkmen poet and considered him their poetic mentor. For example, the poetry of Magtymguly and the famous Tatar poet of the XVIIth century Mavl Kuli (in Tatar, Maul Kuly) and Deardmend (XIXth century) turned out to be consonant, not only in spirit, but also in views, in matters of unity and cohesion of society.

…About 300 years separates us from the time, when Magtymguly lived and worked, but the memory of him lives in the minds of people so that any of them can undoubtedly distinguish the voice of their favorite poet among millions. The invaluable merit of Magtymguly lies in the fact that his poems describe the stages of personal socialization, they have become a mirror of the nation, reflecting its spiritual past, present and future. Therefore, even today, the Turkmen people take special care of the memory and literary heritage of their beloved poet.

The last many years, thanks to the tireless care of National leader of Turkmen people, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the work of the great thinker Magtymguly Fragi is going beyond the national framework of time and culture, it has become an integral part of regional and world literature.

Nowadays, under the wise leadership of the esteemed President of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, wide opportunities are created in our country to familiarize the peoples of the country with Turkmen literature, culture, art and national traditions, which favorably contributes to strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties between countries and peoples, studying the priceless heritage of outstanding personalities like Magtymguly Fragi, who left an unfading trace in the history of mankind.

Collection of manuscripts of Magtymguly Fragi inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register on 24th May, 2024.  On 21th November, the 300th anniversary of the birth of Magtymguly Fragi was included in the calendar of memorable dates to be celebrated jointly with UNESCO in 2024-2025. All these events are confirming the high authority of the Turkmen poet in the international literary arena.

The announcement of 2024 in the International Organization of Turkic culture (TURKSOY) as “Year of the great poet and thinker of the Turkic world Magtymguly Fragi” is evidence of the international recognition of the work of the great Turkmen poet.

In this context, called “The Fount of Wisdom of Magtymguly Fragi” the new year 2024 promises to be a year of widespread popularization in the world of the literary and philosophical heritage of the great Turkmen poet, who became the healer of all hearts and the entire of human soul.